One Firm, One Future

November 11, 2008 by Claudia Linke

Colmore Plaza, Birmingham City Centre, a project by Davis Langdon Photo by Davis Langdon

“Our revenues have grown 78% in the last three years,” says Chris Robinson, IT partner at Davis Langdon. Future prestigious projects promise to increase this growth: The firm will oversee, for example, construction of the facilities of the 2012 Olympics in London. In fact, Davis Langdon aims to grow by another 100% over the next five years. And naturally, such ambitious plans called for new ways of doing business.

A new strategy

To transform Davis Langdon from a company of several regional and national subsidiaries into a single global player, a strategy called “One firm, one future” was drafted. Part of that strategy is a complete overhaul of Davis Langdon’s IT infrastructure. To support the company’s vision of focusing on sectors rather than geography and to enable growth at lower cost, Davis Langdon chose the enterprise resource planning (ERP) software from SAP. It went live in the United Kingdom in March 2008, and the effects were felt immediately, Robinson says.

“We used to have hundreds of fragmented systems, be they on the human resources side, the customer relationship management side, various financial programs, and reporting programs. We brought all those together in one place,” he says. “We now have a system that supports our growth through better customer and opportunity management, and that allows us to avoid a lot of the costs we would have incurred as we continue to grow.”

Putting manpower to work

How SAP helps Davis Langdon

The SAP ERP application:

  • helps turn Davis Langdon into a single firm by streamlining processes and creating unified systems
  • provides Davis Langdon with a platform for growth at lower investment
  • helps identify, bundle, and roll out expertise at the company
  • provides executive partners with greater visibility of the business operation and key performance indicators
  • helps integrate firms that have been merged or acquired
  • can be scaled upward to support the company years down the road

Davis Langdon has over 30 offices throughout the United Kingdom, Europe, and the Middle East, and over 100 worldwide. Mobilizing the many generalists working in these smaller offices for large international projects was a challenge, Robinson says.

The new strategy now banks on specialists (for museums, sports stadiums or office buildings) that can be easily put to work all over the world – no matter where they are located. For this, “we need information on the skills of our people, about the projects they are working on, and when and where they are available,” Robinson says. Davis Langdon is able to efficiently gather exactly that information thanks to the integrated SAP ERP application, he adds.

Davis Langdon chose the SAP ERP application because managers felt it would best support the company not only now, but also in the future. One of the world’s leading small and midsize enterprises (SMEs), Davis Langdon plans to grow by acquisitions all over the world. It aims to quickly integrate the acquired firms, and SAP ERP is “a system that has underpinned our ability to do that,” Robinson says.

Award-winning implementation

Choosing a software solution is one thing, implementing it effectively is another. Davis Langdon did so with the help of Axon, the largest global SAP service provider, in only 13 months. The entire process was meticulously planned, and included quality reviews and measures driven by a quality director with previous experience of SAP implementations.

The implementation of the SAP ERP application, Robinson said, was “very comprehensive in terms of its stakeholder engagement, its communications, its impact analysis, and everything else.” So comprehensive, in fact, that the company was granted the SAP Quality Award 2008.

Fit for the future

But Davis Langdon is not willing to rest on its laurels. The company is still rolling out the SAP ERP application in the Middle East and will add more functions down the road. “We are also going live in November 2008 with a reconfiguration of the application, which allows us to do our sector profit and loss accounting,” Robinson says.

Olympic enthusiasm

For Davis Langdon, the future looks bright. It has worked on a number of prestigious projects, including facilities for the Tate Modern Art Gallery, and the Royal Festival Hall in London. In the Middle East, emirates such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai are investing in gigantic construction projects, and at home, Davis Langdon is involved in the most high-profile building project the country has ever seen: the 2012 Olympic Games. Construction for the games includes billion-pound investments not only in stadiums, but also in infrastructure, cultural venues, and parks. It will thus provide “a legacy of change for London and the UK for many years going forward,” Robinson says. “It’s very exciting to be involved in that.”

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